One Year Later

It has been one year since we held our sweet son for both the first and last time. I don’t really know what to say or where to start, I am at a complete loss of words. I miss him every day and wish he were here. I thought having Elliott and Harper would make this day easier and it does – when Rohen died we lost our son and we lost the family we were dreaming of. Elliott and Harper make that part of this easier, but the ache in my heart for Rohen is just as strong as the day we found out he had no heartbeat.  It doesn’t seem like a year has passed, it feels like it was just yesterday that we were leaving the hospital empty handed after giving birth.

This morning when we got to the hospital we found this:

IMG_7550Our primary night shift nurse made this for us, it was so sweet of her!!! Thank you so much Crystal, it means so much to us.

A lot has happened this year, a lot of really great things followed his death. I married the love of my life on January 23rd, we found out we were pregnant on April 21st, we found out we were expecting twins on May 14th (Rohen’s due date), and up until about 24 weeks we had a pretty uneventful pregnancy. Even with the roadblocks we’ve experienced with Elliott and Harper they’re here and they’re healthy. Elliott is home and Harper should be discharged tomorrow morning. Today is a difficult day for both Devan and me, but it is also a day worth celebrating. We have SO much to be grateful for in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Thank you to everyone who has been there for us for the past year, we appreciate your kindness so much and wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

Rohen, we miss and love you so much.

Love you all!

Ashley, Devan, Elliott & Harper

The arrival of Elliott & Harper (Ashley’s POV)

I can’t believe the day is here that I am writing a blog about the arrival of my children. MY babies…my alive babies that we get to take home in a few weeks!  I can’t wrap my mind around it!!! Devan and I were talking about how weird it feels because the last time I was pregnant we didn’t have a crying, squishy baby to play with, I was pregnant and then I wasn’t…we held Rohen for a few hours and then he was gone forever. Having the twins in the NICU brings back weird flash backs of that because we still don’t have that crying squishy baby in the room with us…I am so glad this time around we just have to walk a few minutes down the hall and we get to see our beautiful babies.

So, where do I start? I suppose I will start with Saturday morning. I know Devan blogged briefly about their birth but I plan on giving you guys every detail I can remember!! We woke up Saturday around 8am to a face I haven’t seen in years! A friend from back when I was in jr high youth group is now a social worker at the hospital we are at and she stopped by to say hello! It was such a pleasant surprise and she talked to us about a bunch of things and asked us if we were interested in touring the NICU. We decided we would love to but had to wait to get orders from my doctor to be able to go in a wheel chair. Around 9am our doctor came in to check on us and said that he had been thinking about a plan of action and decided waiting around after the steroid window opened for delivery was not beneficial enough for the babies and that he wanted to deliver between 10-12 Sunday morning. I couldn’t believe it, I was in shock, I was initially under the impression that as long as the babies were thriving we could be there for weeks – Devan had even called her work and remained on the schedule for Monday (now today)! Dr. Cook left and Devan and I just looked at each other with big smiles on our face – the day was finally here, we had a date & a time of when we were going to meet our babies – the feeling was so surreal. I ordered breakfast and the nurses came in to start our morning stress test. The stress test takes about 20 minutes depending on how well the babies cooperate, they were NOT in the mood to cooperate Saturday morning – in order to have both of their heart beats on the monitors the nurse had to physically sit at my bed side holding the monitors at a very specific angle – and in order to complete the stress test you have to have 20 continuous minutes of both babies heart rates on the monitors. Not an easy task when your kids like to throw curve balls from the womb! The stress test started out totally fine, we were laughing about how the babies are “little shits” and like to dodge the monitors but soon I started having contractions really close together. My uterus is hostile, it doesn’t like to be jabbed at poked and when it is jabbed and poked it tends to contract. I knew something wasn’t right when the nurse lost Harper on the monitor and then while looking for her again you could hear her heart rate decrease. It was SO scary. I listened as her heart rate went from 150 to 90 in a matter of milliseconds and said to the nurse “UHHH, that isn’t normal right?” it wasn’t long before our doctor was in the room explaining that he had noticed her doing this when I had contractions and that if she did it one more time we’d have to deliver today. Cue panic, cue sweating, cue shaking. I was SO nervous and anxious that I could not stop my legs from trembling and felt like sweat was pouring out of all the pores in my body. We all listened in anticipation hoping that her heart rate wouldn’t drop again – but it wasn’t long before they were tossing Devan her OR gear and we were headed out the door. They wheeled me to the OR and prepped me, and administered the spinal block. The anesthesiologist was funny and asked me what I had eaten so far that day – I told him that all I had was a single piece of watermelon – his response was “WHAT, it looks like you ate the whole thing!!!” Gotta love a man that can make me crack a smile while I am so nervous! The staff was great, it was painfully obvious how nervous I was and they were all so sweet and were doing everything they could to help me calm down. Devan entered the OR and was so adorable…she walked in with all her gear on and I just kept thinking about how in love I am with her and how this was it, our babies were minutes away from entering the world. She was supposed to come and sit next to me but it didn’t surprise me when she asked the doctor if she could stand and watch – I am so glad she got to do so and she snapped some pretty sweet pictures! For those of you that don’t know Devan that well, she is a medical junkie and is currently in school to be a nurse so this was a cool experience for her to witness regardless of the fact that she was about to meet her babies for the first time. The c-section was TERRIBLE. I apologize to all blogger friends in advance who might have to get one – I never want to do it again, but of course would do it all day for the outcome. I was not a fan of the intense pressure you feel – I felt hands inside of my abdomen from the bottom all the way up to my boobs, it was the WEIRDEST sensation in the world. The anesthesiologist talked me through a lot of it because he could tell it freaked me out – I kept asking Devan “DO YOU SEE THEM???” She said not yet but they’re getting close!!! It felt like only seconds later and I heard it, my little boy crying. It was the most BEAUTIFUL sound I have ever heard in my entire life. I immediately started crying tears of joy knowing that he was here safe and sound! The doctor gave me a quick peek and then off he went to be checked out by his medical team. About a minute later Harper came out but wasn’t crying. I already had an idea that she wouldn’t have been crying when she came out because of all of her issues. They showed Harper to me as well, and then took her over to her medical team. The plan all along was as soon as the babies come out, Devan is with them and doesn’t leave their side. She talked me through what was going on while they started sewing me shut. Harper wasn’t breathing when she was born and they tried for two minutes to get her going on her own before deciding to intubate. Within seconds of intubation our purple baby was a beautiful pink!  The doctors brought both babies over to me, let me kiss them and then Devan and the babies headed down to the NICU while they finished up the c-section. This was by far the worst part of this experience. The process of closing up was AWFUL. I was so uncomfortable and was really having a hard time with it. My blood pressure was dropping quite a bit and I started to feel really really sick. They were giving me medication to help me out with that and asked if I wanted anything for the pain/discomfort. The doctor asked me if I wanted a sedative and I said no because I didn’t want to be out of it when I was able to see the babies — a few minutes went by and I was really struggling, he asked again and said that it wouldn’t put me out just make me feel better so I agreed, BOY AM I GLAD I AGREED. Demerol is the worlds greatest drug…I felt so relaxed and calm after a minute or two and kept thanking the doctor for his wonderful suggestion! After I got the drugs the c-section wasn’t bad at all, the closed me up and brought me out to recovery. I was able to FaceTime Devan pretty shortly after arriving and she showed me the babies. I had to wait 2 1/2 hours in recovery before I was finally able to see them in person myself- and even then it was only for a few minutes and it was hard to see them because I was in a bed. Devan took both our moms, Mikey, Jane and Eric down to meet them! I was told that as soon as I could get into a wheel chair I could go down myself – challenge accepted. It wasn’t long before I was able to go see both of them and really gaze into their beautiful faces. We spent as much time as we could with them Saturday evening. The time between 8am Saturday morning and when I fell asleep went by as quickly as you blink. I have never been so exhausted in my life. Overwhelming doesn’t even begin to explain how we were both feeling. We went from Devan and Ashley, expecting twins to Devan, Ashley, Elliott & Harper – a family. Its been almost 48 hours and I still cannot wrap my mind around it. I think that it isn’t going to feel real for a while. We haven’t gotten to hold them yet, and barely get to touch them. They’re super sensitive to touch right now so all we can do is really lay our hands on them – they don’t like to be stroked or rubbed or anything quite yet. What I can tell you is I am in love. Their little faces make me melt in a way I have never melted before – I love that their little personalities are already shining through. Harper is such a firecracker and Elliott is much more laid back. Our little girl has a head of blonde what appears to be curly hair and little dude has darker brown straighter hair. Neither of them have had baths yet and after they do we will get an even clearer picture of their hair, I cannot wait! So far my favorite thing to do has been to help the NICU nurses with their care – taking their temp, changing their diapers, changing their sheets if needed. Last night was awesome because both of them opened their eyes for us!! I have been pumping every 2-3 hours since they were born and am so happy with the milk supply I have been getting. Each time I pump I am averaging between 4-5mls of cholustrum which is great according to the lactation consultants! This morning my milk is already starting to show signs of changing from cholustrum to actual breast milk so it shouldn’t be long until my supply really comes in!! I’m beyond happy that I am able to provide them with the yummiest and healthiest food option for my growing babies!!! I will probably be discharged tomorrow which is going to be REALLY weird, how do you just go home without your babies?! The next few weeks are going to be long and exhausting…I am hoping that the babies don’t have the be in the NICU too long – the general consensus amongst the doctors is 3-4 weeks, so shortly after Thanksgiving. I cannot wait until they’re home.

We created a Facebook page that will provide more consistent updates as well as TONS of pictures, check it out! We will continue blogging as well!! But for now the best place to get the 411 will be this page: https://www.facebook.com/elliottandharperdavis

I know Devan is in the process of blogging an update right now too, so you should hear from her shortly!!!

❤ Ashley

The Birth of Elliott and Harper <3

We became mothers today for the second and third time to Elliott Edward and Harper Andersen.

We were moved to antepartum last night because we planned to keep the twins in for a week or two. Our perinatologist thought that we should potentially discuss a c-section on Sunday morning after the 48 hour “steroid window” had opened up (48 hours after the first injection of betamethasone to help their lungs develop faster) and we would continue to push that out if we could keep Harper’s dopplers strong and steady. We spent the night in antepartum after a normal non-stress test and all was well. Ashley was dilated to 2cm and 70% effaced at that time, but they weren’t concerned about that.

We woke up this morning and were planning on having Ashley do her non-stress test, eat some breakfast, and then go on the NICU tour. Our doctor came in and said that he really didn’t feel comfortable going on past Sunday because he would like to deliver them personally and didn’t think another couple of days would make much of a difference. We planned the c-section for Sunday between 10-12 and went ahead with the non-stress test. We noticed immediately that Harper wasn’t doing well. Her heart rate dropped with each contraction, and pushing on Ashley’s stomach trying to keep her on the monitor triggered more and more contractions, every 2-3 minutes. Our doctor had already left for the day, so another doctor from his practice came in and told us that he felt it was time to just move and take them out. Harper had reached a point at which her placenta couldn’t sustain her, and if we didn’t take her right away it could be devastating.

They prepped us right away, getting me into a gown, booties, hairnet and mask and wheeled Ashley into the OR. Once she was draped, I was allowed to go in and sit beside her while our beautiful little ones arrived!

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This is the amazing action shot of amniotic fluid shooting out as they went in to deliver Elliott. 

Elliott Edward arrived at 12:36pm weighing 3lb,8oz.

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Harper Andersen arrived one minute later at 12:37pm and weighed in at a tiny 2lb 11oz. Unfortunately, my phone memory was full and I had to switch to Ashley’s at that exact moment, so I missed a shot of her actually being pulled out. I did get some immediately after!

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They were both taken to be worked on by two separate NICU teams. Dr. Hamburg worked on Harper (she is the one holding her in this picture.) Harper was born not breathing at all, and they worked on her for about two minutes trying to get her to take a breath on her own.

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Her color was obviously awful, she wasn’t responding to their attempts to make her breathe, so the decision was made to intubate. This was her color after being intubated (she pinked right up.) You can pick the twins apart in pictures because Harper has white tape over her mouth and the breathing tube protruding form her mouth.

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Meanwhile, Elliott didn’t need to be intubated but did need some support. He has a nasal cannula hooked up to that is forcing air into his lungs. He was also having some issues with air in his stomach, so they placed a tube into his stomach that air could be released through.

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I was able to cut both of their cords (though they had already been cut… it was more just out of tradition than anything, but I’m glad they let me do it haha)

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Harper was taken back first, and I went with her after Dr. Hamburg brought her to Ashley for a quick kiss before leaving for the NICU. Dr. Weng was still working on Elliott, and Ashley was still being sewn up. Elliott and his team met me in the NICU shortly after I arrived there with Harper and her team.

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Ashley went into recovery where my Mom and Mikey (Grandma and Grandpa!) sat with her. The NICU team started IVs in both babies, drew labs, had chest x-rays done and stabilized them. I FaceTimed her while she was in recovery so she could see the twins before anyone else.

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Elliott flipping a nurse off on the way to the NICU… already trouble! 😉

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My mom and Mikey came up to see the twins, followed by Ashley’s mom and her best friend Jane. Once Ashley was finished in recovery, we wheeled her in to meet them in person for the first time.

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We settled into our room down the hall, and worked on getting Ashley through her recovery. She is tolerating the recovery REALLY well, walking around and not having much pain. She didn’t tolerate the actual c-section well, she says it traumatized her. I can’t imagine being cut open and awake, but it does sound really awful!

The twins’ godfather, Eric, came to visit, and then later Ashley and I both went back to the NICU  with Shad, Lisa and Kaitlyn. Unforunately they aren’t stable enough to hold (which is rough, because we want to do skin-t0-skin ASAP) and everyone agreed that they need to rest without being touched or messed with in order to get their breathing under control. Ashley and I haven’t slept in a really long time, so we have been resting a lot.

Here is how the twins are doing as of right now:

Harper – She is still intubated, and until a few hours ago the plan was to extubate her tonight. While suctioning her, they found blood in the fluid from her lungs. It was a very small amount, but her platelets came back at 60 (they’re looking for around 100) and the two of these events together was concerning. The doctor called to get our consent for a transfusion, which they are doing right now. This is apparently relatively common and is not a reason to panic. Because the pressure from being intubated can help keep her lungs from bleeding, they have decided to leave her intubated for now until they know that the danger of bleeding has passed. They do want to extbubate as soon as it’s safe, because there is a risk for infection. Her blood sugar was too low to read right after birth, but she has since had a glucose injection and is now looking better.

Elliott – He is receiving a little bit of help with his breathing but is not fully intubated. His oxygen saturation was low (in the 80s) so they have bumped up the amount of help he is getting a little and are hoping that works. If he continues to have trouble, an option would be to intubate him as well and give him medication. As of now they are trying to avoid that.

Both babies have had wet diapers, received caffeine to help perk them up after being drowsy from the magnesium Ashley had and have ultrasounds of the brain scheduled on the 15th. The general consensus is that these kids are going to be completely fine. The issues that they are having are common and treatable, so it’s just about getting their breathing stabilized and then getting them to gain weight. Ashley has started pumping and they will start the twins on breastmilk via feeding tubes tomorrow morning. Also, we should be able to hold them tomorrow!

We have had a few different opinions on how long they will be here in the NICU. One doctor thought 3-4 weeks, and the doctor this evening thinks 6-7. It will really depend on how they take to their feedings and how well they gain weight. We won’t know until we start to see growth.

I am exhausted, the nurse is planning on waking us up in an hour to walk Ashley around the unit and possibly remove her catheter, so I am going to have to reserve the long-winded emotional tirade for later. We will update as often as possible with lots of pictures, and we are hoping that tomorrow can begin a schedule of us providing the care (diapers, temp taking, etc) and also holding them skin to skin as much as possible.

Thank you so much to everyone for your support, I am trying to get back to everyone individually! It’s amazing that two people can be so loved when they’ve only been here on earth for 12 hours and 12 minutes!

Love to you all,

Devan

30/31 Week Updates, Flooring Replacement, Baby Shower and the Nursery!

Wow, I am so behind! The last couple of weeks have been INSANE. I can’t believe we missed TWO weekly updates posts… Whoops! We had the flooring in our house replaced, both got sick with gnarly colds, had our baby shower and then completed our nursery (finally!). This post is obscenely long, I am sorry!

First, and most importantly, the babies are doing well. With everything going on, we missed our 30 and 31 week posts! We had two perinatologist appointments and an OB appointment and everything is stable. Two weeks ago, Harper was measuring in the 7th percentile (7.9 to be exact) and that was down from 8.5 two weeks before that. If she continues to fall behind, we will have a c-section to prevent her from going into distress or suffering from lack of nutrients. Going forward, we will have two appointments with our perinatologist per week. One will be an ultrasound for a biophysical profile and fatal doppler and the other will be a non-stress test. Every other week, we will measure them for growth. Tomorrow is a growth ultrasound, so we are hoping Harper is looking great. She was 2 lb, 12 oz two weeks ago and Elliott was 3 lb, 3 oz. Ashley met with our OB on Monday (it was the first time I’ve missed an appointment, I had to work) and the plan right now is to take them as soon as Harper falls any further behind. While so far things are great, we could potentially meet our kids tomorrow. It’s terrifying but also exciting! We are still aiming for 34 weeks for their safety, but everyone is just so happy that we have made it this far. 32 weeks is truly amazing considering the challenges these peanuts have faced, especially since there were points along the line when 24 weeks was the goal, then 28, then 32 and now finally 34. We are ready when they are!

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731 days.

It has been two years and one day since my miscarriage. (It was a chemical pregnancy, but I always feel like calling it that really does a poor job of conveying the emotional trauma of the situation.)

I was 23 and the pregnancy was the result of my 2nd IUI. I was pregnant for a very, very short time, but in that short span I learned something very important. It’s something that I’ve written so many times but it’s the most important thing I have learned in my life.

The most important thing is that every infertile woman gains a mother’s heart as the prize for her sorrow.

We are mothers the moment we know in our heart that it is time to try. We are mothers before the shots, pills, endless ultrasounds and every single BFN. Loving our children before they are here is what makes us mothers.

The day after my miscarriage, two years ago today, I knew the pain of loss would kill me. I struggled deeply with depression and self-harm as teenager, and I was terrified because until that day, I had never wanted to hurt myself as an adult. I reached levels so low that I would wish for death. I would long for release, fall asleep wishing that I would fade out in the night. Strength lies in recovery. Slow, grueling recovery is what gave me wisdom. It is what amplifies the joy I have every day waiting for my healthy twins. It took a girl and turned her into a woman. It took a woman and turned her into a mother. Recovering from my miscarriage is what gave me the willpower to recover from losing Rohen. Had I not mourned my miscarriage, I don’t think I would have been strong enough to survive mourning him.

Two years and one day later, I’m nowhere near the same person I was on that day. I am entirely wiser, more grateful, and much more peaceful. I am not thankful for my losses, but I am profoundly thankful for the growth that came from them.

We’re all still growing. ❤

21 Weeks

How far along? 21 Weeks

My babies are the size of: Carrot
Net weight gain: Still lingering in the 3-5lb weight gain, I fluctuate between the two.

Maternity clothes: Yes, and my wonderful friend Lisa saw a sale at Old Navy last week and not only bought me a pair of pants & two shirts (FOR UNDER 10$) but sent me over there and I was able to get 4 more shirts!
Sleep: Between peeing & the hips and just trying to get comfortable I’m not sleeping as well as I would like. I usually get a good solid 1-2 hours before I wake up and am up for 15-20 minutes peeing and trying to get comfortable again. Sometimes I just can’t fall back asleep and I’m up for over an hour, those are the worst nights.
Best Moment this week: Finding our baby shower venue!

Miss Anything: Beer!

Movement: I feel them every day, but I want them to move more haha!

Food Cravings: Nothing really this week…

Anything making you queasy or sick: Just having an empty stomach!

Gender:  B&G

Labor Signs: None, thank goodness, far too early for all that!

Happy or Moody most of the time: Definitely happy

Weekly Wisdom: Be happy with your pregnancy no matter where you are. The first trimester is terrifying but enjoy every second of it.
Looking forward to: Next scan on 9/5/14, planning the baby shower!

Happy Thursday Everyone! We’ve had a pretty busy week trying to figure out what to do for our baby shower and we finally found a place!! I work for a company that managers homeowners associations and one of the properties we manage has a BEAUTIFUL club house that they typically only rent out to homeowners. I e-mailed the community manager there and asked if they would make an exception since we work together and she said YES! Here is the clubhouse, how pretty is that?
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 Devan and I are going to check it out today after work and if all goes well we are definitely going to do it there!! I am getting so excited to start planning, I really want to do a whale theme, but we haven’t decided on a theme yet. We are doing a woodland theme for our nursery so Devan suggested that we do that for the theme but I want to do something different!

Next Sunday our friend Michael will be visiting from Utah and he is helping us start the Nursery makeover! We are going to paint and get it started for these little lovelies; I am stoked to start getting everything ready for them! I cannot wait until they’re here, I just want to snuggle them in my arms!!

Today is sort of a weird day, a year ago I got inseminated and it was the cycle we got pregnant with Rohen. That damn time hop app is going to be rough going forward, lots of Rohen pictures coming up. I’m happy to be pregnant with our twins, but I miss him so much, I wish I could have all three of them.

Oh, I almost forgot, Arizona still sucks. I spoke with that lawyer I had a meeting with, and I’m glad I changed the appointment to be over the phone because she not only sounded like she had no idea what the hell she was talking about, but it turned out she had no idea what the hell she was talking about haha. She told us that we could use a loophole in the state of California. Apparently you don’t have to be a resident of California to adopt there, so she made it seem like Devan and I could go through the court systems in California, adopt the twins and then Arizona has to recognize it. WRONG. She was half right, we don’t have to be residents of California to adopt, but the child would then need to reside or be born in California for it to work. So, basically I’d need to change OB’s, schedule a C-Section and have the twins in California for it to work, or move there. What a crock of shit, Devan is my wife, and she is their Mom why is it so hard for the state of Arizona to get that through their head! We had a glimmer of hope after talking to her and our dreams were crushed as soon as I talked to an attorney in California. Hopefully the lawsuit pending here gets to court quick; I really want that chapter to be over. It seems like everywhere I look people are making racist or just purely ignorant comments. The Ferguson situation is all over the place, people are getting crazy about it and of course race is at play in a situation like this – it’s funny because you start to see people for their true colors, just a little FYI folks, if you are racist you can get the hell out of my life because I don’t have time in my life for narrow minded morons. Don’t even get me started on the ignorant comments Michelle Duggar made about the transgender community, that shit fires me up, I am just completely intolerant to intolerance. Moving on though, Devan starts school on Monday, should be exciting for her! One semester closer to being a nurse and my sugar mama!

 That is all I have for this week, and of course a belly shot for you all! PS – That is one of the shirts Lisa got me! Super cute!

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Have a good rest of the week everyone!

Ashley ❤

Arizona sucks!

Devan and I live in the lovely state of Arizona…back in 2008 a proposition was passed that made it so marriage was defined in the Arizona state constitution  that it can only be between a man and a woman, therefore making it impossible for same sex couples to marry. Many states passed similar laws, got sued, and have since been ruled unconstitutional, therefore making same sex marriage legal. We have a similar lawsuit pending here but until it goes to court and is overturned for being unconstitutional Devan will have NO rights to Elliott and Harper. I’m talking NO rights, as many rights as you would have to them – that is what she will have. Devan and I are legally married, we went to New Mexico and on January 23rd 2014 we made our relationships legit, only Arizona doesn’t think so. DOMA makes it so that we are recognized federally, so that is nice, we can file our federal taxes together but as far as the stuff that really matters she may as well be a complete stranger.  I’ve been doing research and found a law firm that specializes in same sex second parent adoption. I called them on Friday and the attorney immediately told me to come in for a free consultation so we are going today at 4pm. I really don’t know what to think…while Arizona doesn’t have any law prohibiting same sex second parent adoption it is not something that I have even heard of, and I have friends – two men that have a little girl and they haven’t been successful as of yet. Their situation is a lot different than ours, as there is no second parent to relinquish rights from (SO glad we used an anonymous donor, it was worth the thousands of dollars we paid)…I’m on the edge of my seat, I just want Devan to be able to be on the birth certificate and have the same rights I do to our kids. It’s unfair to me that we even have to see an attorney about this, I never have and never will understand why people care what homosexuals do behind closed doors, it doesn’t make any sense to me. The way I see it, if you are against it for whatever reason – usually religious conviction – then don’t do it, seems like an easier answer then preventing those who don’t follow the same convictions as you from doing something simply because you don’t believe it is right. If you think about other situations where a person could potentially be against something due to religious convictions…such as divorce for example, it would be absurd to think of passing a law prohibiting it – yet for marriage it happens all the time.  I just want people to leave us alone, let us live our lives and be a family. I don’t think people realizes how hurtful it is to homosexuals to live in a world like today, granted we’ve made A LOT of progress, but we still aren’t there yet. I have only experienced persecution (to my face) one time and it was really minor. Devan and I were in Disneyland chatting away with a woman and her kids and having a great time waiting for the fireworks to start. We had been talking for at least 15 minutes when it came up that Devan and I were a couple. The woman immediately turned around and just stopped talking to us – and that was it. It hurt our feelings, absolutely, but I suppose she could have been a lot meaner about it – does it matter either way? I’m just scared, I’m scared for my twins, and the fact that they’re being born into a world full of so much hate. I’m getting off track here, I am just very passionate about this situation and just want everyone to love one another. I cannot wait for the day that Devan and I can say we are legally married in Arizona, in ALL states – I know it will happen in our lifetime and that makes me very excited, I am just sick of waiting! I wish people could see into mine and Devan’s heart. I feel like if they knew how much we loved each other they wouldn’t question us. They couldn’t, our love is raw, pure and real. She is my heart – and we both love our babies more than anything in this world.  Please keep us in your thoughts today as we go meet with the attorney. I will update everyone once we have met with her and let you all know what she said. Crossing my fingers and toes that she can help us!

Sometimes you have to go back and re-read

I am a re-reader. I will post something and read it 10 times that day to reflect on what I said, check for errors and think of anything I missed. I re-read Devan’s post that she wrote the day before we found out I was pregnant with the twins. It is her tribute to Rohen, her perspective on what happened that dark day in December.

She put our story into words so beautifully and eloquently. She is so talented, and in light of some of our blogging buddies hurting right now, I figured we could all re-visit this story and hopefully show that we are here with you guys – even though we are now expecting, we’ve been there, we’ve been in the darkness just waiting for the light.

I can’t begin to explain how therapeutic I have found blogging to be and how you have all become a little family to me. I check WordPress at least 5 times a day to read your updates and my heart aches when your heart aches, and feels joy when you feel joy. Just remember, the sun must set to rise, your sunrise is coming.

I just wanted to re-share the story of losing Rohen:

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❤ Ashley

20 Weeks!!!!!

How far along? 20 Weeks

My babies are the size of: Banana!!!
Net weight gain: Still lingering in the 3-5lb weight gain, I fluctuate between the two.

Maternity clothes: Yes
Sleep: Still peeing every hour (I’m not sure that is going to get better haha) and hips hurt but as long as I am not waking up for 2-3 hours unable to fall back asleep I’m happy – unfortunately this happens 1x a week or so.
Best Moment this week: Feeling them move so much, both Devan and our friend Kaitlyn got to feel them move yesterday!

Miss Anything?: Beer!

Movement: It is the best thing in the world,  I wish they moved all day long!

Food Cravings: I just want it all, tonight I’m having a roast, potatoes, corn & biscuits for dinner and I’m already drooling over it.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Just having an empty stomach!

Gender:  B&G

Labor Signs: None, thank goodness, far too early for all that!

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy, unless I’m hungry and then I’m hangry as Devan calls it.

Weekly Wisdom: You don’t choose your relatives, but you choose your family. Surround yourself with people that uplift you and bring you joy!
Looking forward to: Next scan on 9/5/14

Guys, I’m 20 weeks today and that means I am officially more pregnant than I ever have been. Rohen died when he was *supposed* to be 20w2d but the doctors said he was likely gone a week before then. As I type this these little bugs are kicking away reminding me that they’re here and healthy. It is the best thing a mommy could ever feel.

This week has been rough, mostly in my personal life. I haven’t shared much about my personal life on here to spare my family but at this point I’m not really talking to them anymore, and they don’t have access to this blog so not sure what it would hurt, and I can have a chance to vent. I’m not going to go into details on anything because I would be writing all day – the gist of it is this – I’m surrounded by people who don’t treat their kids the way they deserve to be treated. My oldest sister has two boys, 15 & 4 – for 2 years Devan and I cared for the 15 year old who was in CPS custody. We got licensed as foster parents and at the ages of 22 & 23 we took on the task of raising a then 13 year old boy. It doesn’t sound too hard until you mention that this 13 year old was in a gang, doing drugs, having sex, popping pills, failing school and had a huge attitude problem. It was Thanksgiving of 2011 when I picked him up from his dad’s house and asked “do you want to come stay with me?” and my life changed in that moment. Those two years tested mine and Devan’s relationship to the MAX, if we got through that we can get through ANYTHING. We had the cops at our house almost weekly, countless school meetings – he changed schools three times in those two years due to being kicked out, counseling sessions – basically we lived and breathed this kid for two years. For two years we devoted everything we had to him (all while still being in the “kid” stage ourselves, this wasn’t like pregnancy this happened overnight and we were not expecting it) It was very discouraging because no matter how hard we tried he would still continue the bad behavior, it truly broke my heart because I just wanted this CHILD to be able to be an innocent child for the few years he had left, but it was already over for him. As we cared for him, we also cared for my sister. We’d receive daily phone calls with her sobbing because she just “couldn’t quit drinking” – CPS told her numerous times what she needed to do in order to quit and she didn’t participate in any of it. 7 months almost to the day after we got Nicolas we started TTC with our RE – we figured if we could handle my nephew, we could easily handle a newborn. My nephew became a chronic runaway and would be gone for weeks at a time – the only contact we’d have from him was random phone calls from throw away phones simply letting us know he was still alive. He failed 7th grade twice and was going down a terrible path. The last time he ran away he got put in jail and stayed in jail for 2-3 months until they found him a locked group home. This was about a year ago; he just got out on 8/1/14. Once he was no longer in our home we told CPS that we were not taking him back again. We just found out I was expecting Rohen and knew that we couldn’t let our children live in an unstable environment like this. I told my sister she needs to get her shit together for her kids because I wasn’t cleaning up her mess anymore. She finally started participating and was doing a great job. We were all so impressed and proud of her! It looked like my nephew was going to be able to come home with her and that everything could go back to normal, or at least a new normal. About a month and a half ago she finished her alcohol classes and had been sober for about 7 months – she got a call from CPS asking that she continues taking classes and lost it. Here’s the thing – I get it, you’ve been working hard for 7 months and you thought you were done, but you’re not – it’s frustrating. Her response? Quit everything. She stopped taking her drug tests, going to classes, she missed his court dates and as of yesterday missed his appointment where they do a check in with everyone and make sure all is well. She moved in with a guy that she started dating a week or two prior and her life is all about her and this guy now because she is “finally happy” – I suppose even if it is at the expense of your children your happiness is all that matters? I heard through the grapevine that she has been taking her drug tests again but that is all I know. I had some words with her the day after my birthday because she neglected to even tell me Happy Birthday – something out of the ordinary for us. I let her know how I really felt for the first time in the past two years. When I was talking to her I kept thinking about Rohen, and about all of you. About how we would give ANYTHING just to be mothers and once we were given the honor every single breath we took would be for our children. I said this to her, I said I don’t understand how you can have two healthy boys and just not give a shit when I would do anything just to have one day with Rohen alive; to be able to hold him while his heart is beating. Needless to say we haven’t done much talking, I removed her from all my social networking sites (I know, it’s a serious blow lol) and I haven’t called or texted her since – I plan on staying strong until she is there for her kids. I refuse to watch my family members treat their children like vermin.

It’s all around me – my other sister has twin girls – they are about to be 5 in September. She has always had a rocky back and forth relationship with their dad and has since moved on to a new guy that lives in California and is moving there in two weeks. My sister frustrates me because she talks to my nieces like they’re garbage. She has ruined countless holidays and family functions because when she is angry, everyone knows. Let me start off by saying I have a mouth on me. I love cussing, something I will be changing very soon because while I do believe cussing around a child and AT a child are very different things I would still like to limit the amount of cussing around my children that I do. I definitely don’t want the mouth I have now around my kids. With that being said, I’ve been listening to these girls getting cussed AT for a few years now, and I just can’t do it anymore. I’m sick of people thinking it is OK to tell your kids to shut the fuck up, or get your fucking shit together, were leaving. It is NOT OK. I’m not a parent yet, but as I stated earlier I played the role of my nephews sole provider for two years and while I absolutely lost my temper with him, and probably cussed AT him a few times it wasn’t a regular thing (this doesn’t make this right, I was absolutely wrong, and I felt awful about it and worked harder the next time to keep my temper in control). I guess my point is this; there is a difference between losing your temper SOMETIMES and losing your temper ALL the time. If you find yourself yelling at your children like this on a daily basis you need to re-evaluate how you are parenting and ask for some help – it doesn’t make you weak it makes you strong. We are all human and all of us make mistakes, if you are willing to admit it and fix it – then you are awesome for doing that! So with that all being said, my other sister and I got into on Tuesday afternoon. I was trying to set something up with her to see my nieces before she moved and she didn’t want me to have them all day for a BBQ just a quick goodbye – I should have kept my mouth shut and left it at that but it irritated me that she wasn’t letting us spend quality time with them so I kept pushing. She then said we couldn’t see them at all and I lost it. I told her that she doesn’t deserve to be called a mother because she treats her girls like garbage and takes them for granted. After saying a few things about how Karma is going to “get me” she said this:

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Needless to say, I spent the rest of Tuesday curled in a ball sobbing because really who the fuck says that to someone? I came to realize that she meant Karma is going to get the TWINS not me, and that really got to me. She was implying that these babies are going to die too – something you all know and empathize with as being our BIGGEST FEAR. After you’ve lost a child, you know your next isn’t guaranteed ever, and anything can happen at any moment – it stuck with me. I still can’t shake it, because I love the twins so much already, I feel them inside of me, and I dream of them. They’re already my children, and I couldn’t bear to lose them. I failed to mention in the midst of all this she is converting to Mormonism. She is being baptized soon and “devoting her life to Christ” to better herself. Even as a non-spiritual person I was in support of this so long as it benefited my nieces – if being Mormon brings her to a peace within and helps her talk to my nieces in a better way, sign her up and quick! I just hope she realizes that saying that type of thing to me is definitely not Christ like, not to mention the fact that the week before she told my brother to go kill himself and that my mother should have aborted him – this was after he too called her out for the way she talks to the girls after witnessing it for the 100th time. So as you can see, it’s a hot mess. I made many mistakes myself throughout all of this, including waiting so long to speak up for my nieces and losing my temper myself but I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t read your TTC blogs all day and know my own story and then watch the abuse. It makes me sick.

Like I said above, you can’t choose your relatives but you can choose your family – I’m happy to say that we have a pretty awesome family. Last night we spent a few hours with our friend Lisa and her daughter who is almost 20, Kaitlyn. We ate some delicious nachos and watched a show called “Skin Wars” about painting bodies and laughed our asses out. We talked about how when the twins are here we will be there all the time and that she is going to bring out all her old toys for them to play with. It makes me so happy knowing the babies are already so loved. We have our moms, my brother, Devan’s sister (and her ridiculously cute baby – and her boyfriend Jake) and other family that is spread around Arizona on Devan’s side and a whole slew of awesome friends. We are fortunate and I feel that if we cling to the positive people in our lives we will be able to give Harper & Elliott a wonderful childhood.

Here are some pictures from this week, I love seeing pictures when you guys post them so I figured I would start including some each week too!

 IMG_2155 Lennon, our bulldog she likes laying on the babiesIMG_2002

 And making super weird bulldog faces

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Devan snuggling our cute nephew, Kimball – I love that kid.

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Guys, I was a weird looking kid – lets hope the babies get the donors genes, those are the pictures of him that we were given above 🙂 He sure is handsome. Love his dimple chin, Rohen had a dimple chin. I’m stoked that our twins are 100% siblings with Rohen and that we are able to continue to use the same donor.

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Guys, look how beautiful Devan is, I can’t even handle it. Ow Ow!

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We can end with the cat being forced to dress like a baby, because its hilarious.

Enjoy your week everyone, I am beyond excited for all the positive tests we’ve had this week and know that there will be just as many next month!

❤ Ashley

9 Things I Wish I Had Known About Infertility

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Reflecting back on our two+ year journey through infertility, I can think of a lot of things I wish I would have known and been prepared for when we got started. This is a journey that never ends, even after you’re pregnant. For my friends who are still working at achieving their dreams or have experienced the trials of infertility treatments, I hope you can relate to my list of nine things I wish I would have known before we started this process.

1. You go in naive and hopeful…

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I’m talking full-blown, wide-eyed, rainbows and sunshine naive. “This will only take one or two tries, three max!” naive. “We can afford $4000, worst case scenario!” naive.  We picked the perfect donor, informed our families, planned our finances around two or three cycles and went for it! After all, we weren’t really infertile… just missing a penis. In fact, our medical records at our RE’s office list “azoospermia” as our infertility diagnosis. Even though we went in thinking positive thoughts, it only took a couple of cycles to realize we were going to have a problem.

2. …but quickly realize it’s not going to be easy.

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On my first Clomid cycle, I had one follicle that only made it to 16mm. Through my other 4 cycles, my uterine lining and follicle sizes were absolutely all over the map, and I never responded well to increased dosages (up to 150mg at one point). When we switched to Ashley, her cysts turned out to be such a huge problem that she had to undergo a cystectomy to save her ovary from a hemorrhagic cyst. (Our RE was actually so excited about the success of the surgery that he gave Ashley a massive high-five after seeing that her ovary was still producing eggs at her next ultrasound.) Wading out into the uncertain waters of infertility treatments is scary, because you never know what sort of problems you will find and/or create while you’re in there. Clomid can lead to early miscarriage because of it’s effect on the quality of eggs and the uterine lining. It can also lead to a high risk of cancer, which is why our RE and many others impose a cap on how many cycles you can use it (6 for us, I’ve had 5 and Ashley has had 4.) It’s a rough balancing act, because as lesbians we don’t need the type of care that an RE usually provides. We refused all fertility testing because we didn’t want to pay for or undergo expensive and invasive procedures when we didn’t even know that we would have trouble conceiving. We decided to use Clomid because we wanted higher chances, even though there were extra risks. You really are going in blind, weighing your options and picking what is the cheapest/fastest/highest success rate/lowest risk… and no one treatment fits into all those categories.

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3. You start to experience loss.

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I’m not just talking about miscarriage and stillbirth here, that would be obvious. I lost my pregnancy at 5 weeks after my second IUI, and until we lost Rohen it was the saddest thing that ever happened to me. Losing Rohen was like having our hearts ripped out of our chests. I’ve written until my fingers were cramping about both of those, but the sadness I’m talking about now lies in something smaller and less conspicuous than that. It’s in every single negative pregnancy test. It’s on your first cycle when that blissful hope dies out for the first time, and it’s on the ninth cycle after you told yourself last time you weren’t going to be able to recover from another failed cycle. It’s when trying becomes almost a habit, ultrasounds and Clomid and inseminations over and over again, and still no results. Ashley barely made it through our last three inseminations, she was so sure that there was no way this would ever work. I think the saddest thing about this is that no one wants to hear about it. Depression is incredibly lonely, and it’s even lonelier when you’re grieving for something that no one else can see was even lost in the first place. During the two week wait after inseminations, you fantasize about the baby implanting and growing, dream of your due date, expect and wish for this one to be it. When that test comes back negative, it’s like it’s own little miscarriage. It really is the miscarriage of a dream. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that family and friends will recognize the magnitude of this loss, and so that pain gets internalized. The depression during and after infertility is a special kind of emptiness. An empty womb is so heavy to bear.

4. You become addicted to POAS (peeing on a stick)

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And I mean addicted. I’m talking about clearing the entire shelf of 88 cent Walmart tests (First Signal, it’s like the meth of POAS addition). At one point, Ashley and I left Walmart with two entire grocery bags full of tests, probably about 10 brands. Oh sure, you’ll tell yourself you’re just going to “test out the trigger”, but it soon turns into daily testing. “IS THAT A LINE?” “LOOK AT IT THIS WAY AND SQUINT YOUR EYES IT KIND OF LOOKS LIKE A LINE!” “WAIT, LET’S LOOK AT IT IN NATURAL SUNLIGHT, THEN WE WILL BE ABLE TO TELL!” “TAKE A PICTURE OF IT, IF WE CAN SEE THE LINE IN THE PICTURE THEN WE WILL KNOW IT’S REALLY A LINE!” “IT’S 9DPIUI DO YOU THINK THERE’S STILL TIME FOR A BFP?”

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You’d think that all this madness would end when you FINALLY get that BFP… nope, not at all. In fact, Ashley took pregnancy tests every single day until our first ultrasound. (Not so) funny story: On the morning of our first ultrasound, Ashley peed on a stick (her usual routine) the test came up BARELY positive, even though we had been having very distinct positives for weeks. She woke me up telling me that she was losing the baby. I called our doctor, Shane, at 7am and told him our concerns. He met us at the office early and fit us in several hours before our scheduled appointment, which was awesome because then we found out we were having the twins. Sheer terror became sheer bliss instantly! (But it’s pretty much still sheer terror because, you know… twins.)

5. Everyone starts getting pregnant and you become uncontrollably bitter towards them (no matter how hard you try not to.)

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And you will feel like a horrible human being for it. Crack whore friend from high school? BABY! Perpetually drunk friend? BABY! (Still no word on that baby daddy though.) Everyone and their mother will be getting knocked up like it’s going out of style while you cry over your period. At one point during our attempts to get pregnant, our nephew’s 14 year-old ex girlfriend got pregnant. It’s not always just pregnancy, sometimes it’s just shitty parenting. It’s seeing people smoke through their pregnancies, hearing them swear at their kids or call them names… The day after my miscarriage a pregnant friend called us in tears because she was having a boy instead of a girl. Smile big, ladies… and never let them know that you’re walking the fine, blurry line between saying, “I’m so happy for you!” and hearing,”We, the jury, find the defendant…”

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6. The cost becomes astronomical.

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There really isn’t much to say about this, except that sperm is damn expensive. I can’t believe that people even jerk off without selling it, what a waste. We spend about $300 per vial of sperm, and each vial is good for one try. (And those are bargain prices, dude. That is like the Costco price.) Each IUI cycle costs about $1000 in fees from our RE’s office. Throw in a labor and delivery, a cystectomy and a few other complications, and these twins cost us about $25,000.

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7. You start getting really awful advice from your fertile friends.

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I wrote a post called 6 Questions Every Infertile Woman Answers a while back, and I think I touched on this topic pretty thoroughly. The big questions/comments: Why don’t you just adopt? If you stop trying, it will happen. Maybe God doesn’t want you to get pregnant. You should stand on your head. You want kids? Psh, take mine! You should sacrifice a goat to the waning gibbous moon on the 4th of September while dancing naked in the woods. (I may or may not have made that last one up.) The bottom line is that your well-meaning friends will be coming from all directions with advice that is pretty much irrelevant to your situation. The best advice I can give to a woman who is getting a lot of unnesscarry advice is to remember that your friends are trying to help, and sometimes sharing what worked for them is the only way they can contribute. So smile, nod, and say thanks. I’ve had the “maybe you’re not meant to get pregnant” thing tossed in my face a handful of times… in fact my sister in law told us today that losing Rohen was Mother Nature’s way of telling us that we aren’t meant to be mothers. Situations such as this may require punching on or around the face area, use your best judgement.

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8 You start getting really good advice from others who have struggled to get pregnant, and you find comfort in the community.

My first line of defense was a handful of supportive friends. Then came the amazing family that we found in the staff at ACFS, our RE’s office. Our nurse, Lisa, was with us almost every step of the way. She moved to California right before the insemination that resulted in the twins, but we are still making Harper’s middle name Andersen, which is her last name. Our doctor, Shane, put up with our constant worries went out of his way to keep us positive. The office staff laughed with us, gushed over our ultrasounds with us, and comforted us when we came back into the office defeated, ready to start another cycle that we knew would probably be unsuccessful. We found forums… a place to vent our fears and ask questions that we felt too stupid or embarrassed to ask people in real life. We learned a new language from them… the language of infertility. (DP got a BFN on a FRER HPT 10DPIUI, any chance we could still get a BFP?) Finally, we found blogland. This blog started as a way to keep our friends in the loop, and as we explored the stories of others we learned that we are not alone. No matter how scared and lonely this got, other women were feeling the same emptiness, the same terror, the same joys and the same hopes. Now, I only wish that we would have connected with you all earlier… It would have brought us enormous comfort before and after losing Rohen.

9. It will all be worth it in the end.

It really, really will be. Even if we weren’t pregnant with the twins now, it would still have been worth it. We loved our children before we even started working for them. We loved the one that I lost, and we loved Rohen, and we love these twins. The love a mother can have for a child is indescribable… it’s an all-consuming love that makes you glow from the inside out. It warms you up when you start to feel the iciness of grief. Just to have loved them, even if I was never able to hold them alive, was worth everything. Infertility has an end for every woman, but the ends are so vastly different. Some of us will continue to lose, and will never carry a child. Some of us will succeed and go on to pinpoint their fertility problems and carry multiple times. Some of us will turn to surrogacy, fostering or adoption. The most important thing is that every infertile woman gains a mother’s heart as the prize for her sorrow. Loving children before they are with us grants us a graceful and tender heart. I was told when we lost Rohen that one day I would understand the purpose for him dying so soon. I am non-religious, I do not believe that his death was a part of a plan. I do, however, believe that as his mother it is up to me to give his life purpose. The purpose I have found is this: like a garden, soil must be tilled if flowers are to take root and thrive. Rohen made my spirit his garden, preparing it for a love so grand it can’t be explained with words. Had he not been there, left his mark, I don’t think I would be half the mother I know I will grow to be. However we become mothers, whether our arms remain empty or get so full that they are overflowing, our heartache will be worth it in some way or another. I can promise you that.

TTC mamas, I say this all the time… but you are in my heart, all the time. I promise you that one day this sorrow will magnify your joy. No rain, no rainbow.

❤ Devan